Forte grants to researchers at ARC

Lena Dahlberg, researcher at the Aging Research Center, has been granted research funding of SEK 3 240 000 in Forte’s annual open call for proposals in the fields of health, working life and welfare. Debora Rizzuto and Amaia Calderón-Larrañaga have been granted funding of SEK 4 805 000 and 4 890 000  respectively within the call on research in ageing and health.

Lena Dahlberg,  Pushed to the edge of society: Social exclusion among older women and men in Sweden

Compared to the EU average, older people in Sweden have a high relative risk of poverty, and this is especially true of women. Social exclusion provides a framework for understanding the complexity of disadvantage across different life domains, and is a process whereby some individuals are prevented from participating fully in society. However, recent reviews of social exclusion research find little focus on older people and a lack of a gender perspective. The aim of this project is to examine the process of social exclusion in older women and men in Sweden, using data from LNU and SWEOLD. These national studies provide the opportunity to explore social exclusion in relation to the life domains of: production activity; material resources; social relationships; civic activities; local neighbourhood and services.

This project will answer the following questions: 1) to what extent are older people excluded across different life domains?; 2) how is exclusion across domains interrelated?; 3) to what extent do people move into/out of social exclusion?; 4) what are the risk factors for social exclusion?; 5) what are the outcomes of social exclusion?; and 6) how does social exclusion vary between women and men? The project findings will generate a greater understanding of social exclusion processes, and thereby contribute to a more integrated and effective policy to combat social exclusion among the older people.

Debora Rizzuto. Photo: Maria Yohuang

Debora Rizzuto, Can a healthy physical and social environment compress the period of disability in older adults?

In recent years, life expectancy in the EU has risen faster than healthy life expectancy. To avoid declines in the quality of life in old age and ensure the sustainability of health care systems, we urgently need to reduce the burden of disability in older people. Healthy lifestyle factors and other preventive measures may help, but we do not fully understand which factor/s in isolation could reduce the burden of late-life disability the most. Nor do we know the extent to which physical and social environments may synergistically modify this burden.

Our goal is to deepen knowledge of the determinants of the length of disability-free life, focusing on modifiable physical and social environmental factors. Research questions include: Which modifiable lifestyle factors are associated with a relative compression or expansion of the disabled period before death? Can we identify a threshold effect of different types of social network and engagement? Which environmental factors are most damaging to the health of older people? How do social and physical environments interact to influence the course of disability in older people?

Findings will contribute to the development of individual and societal prevention strategies to reduce disability burden and increase quality of life in older people.

Amaia Calderón-Larrañaga. Photo: Lucas Morin

Amaia Calderón-Larrañaga, Does our healthcare system truly fit older people? Impact of multidimensional health trajectories on the use of medical and social care services

As health and health changes in older adults are characterised by great heterogeneity, their needs and demand for health care also vary widely. Thus, a more personalised characterisation of the care needs of older people is required to inform policy makers and to provide stakeholders with more reliable healthcare management tools.

Data from the 3363-participant Swedish National study of Aging and Care in Kungsholmen (SNAC-K), derived from extensive assessments over more than 15 years, will enable us to study the relationship between health status and healthcare use in a comprehensive and longitudinal manner. Our ultimate goal is to better align the organisation and provision of health care with the medical and social care needs of the populations they now serve. To achieve this goal, we aim to: (1) identify distinct multidimensional health trajectories in the older population, (2) examine the relationship between these health trajectories and use of medical and social services, and (3) explore how different social and psychosocial factors moderate this association.

The proposed research will allow us to (a) understand health in old age from a person-centred perspective by considering its complexity and between- and within- individual heterogeneity and (b) provide the evidence needed by healthcare managers to deliver better care at a more appropriate time and place.